What are two of the most prominent and powerful Irish American men in the nation doing promoting Donald Trump's idiotic claim that if he loses on November 8 it will be because the election was “rigged”?
That's not true. To be clear, that's a lie.
If Trump loses on November 8 it will be because he gets less votes than his opponent. That is all. Talk of a “rigged” national vote is insufferable nonsense concocted in the outer reaches of the wingnut Internet and, what's more, it's unpatriotic nonsense.
It's infuriating and disgraceful to hear a candidate for president undermine the public’s trust in their own hard won system of government. But it's infinitely worse when -- and I use the term loosely here -- two prominent journalists like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity of Fox News allow Trump to use their programs to broadcast this “rigged” storyline without challenging him to prove its veracity.
Trump as usual is claiming that “many people are saying” the integrity of our national voting system is fixed. But the truth is that almost no one is saying this apart from Trump, who is increasingly faced with the prospect of losing and who has concocted this bogus storyline to protect his fragile ego.
At a minimum O'Reilly and Hannity should have immediately countered Trump's dangerous conspiracy theory. This is the United States after all, not a banana republic.
It's major news when a Republican presidential candidate is claiming his election is going to be stolen, but instead the two Fox News potentates simply blinked and nodded as Trump huffed and puffed on their shows.
Those three enduring conservative bogeymen, Wall Street, Washington and Big Media, have hatched a nefarious plot to cheat the orange man of his destiny, we were asked to believe. It's a theory that finds deep traction among many Republicans, with only 21 percent believing the votes of the 2012 election were accurately counted.
Grumbling about rigged votes when they don't go your way has a long history in America of course, but there hasn't been a presidential candidate in the last hundred years who publicly claimed that it was why he wasn't elected.
If Trump is going to be defeated – and that's looking increasingly likely – it's because WE vote him out, not the government, not a cabal of shadowy leftists, not the gays or the Muslims or the Jews alone, but the majority of the country itself, from sea to shining sea. If Trump loses, he will have richly deserved to.
If he loses it's because we already know exactly what kind of leadership he would offer, instead of a president we'd have a Russian-style authoritarian ruler, one who favors some and threatens others, and who tears up the United States Constitution to deport anyone who even looks at him funny.
Crackpot right wing radio host Alex Jones has been ceaselessly warning his listeners that the Obama administration might declare martial law and cancel the 2016 election. Obama is more likely to declare Mars the 51st state of the union, but you can't reason with these wild-eyed lunatics.
Meanwhile, political consultant and Trump supporter Roger Stone is breathlessly informing Breitbart News that The Donald will have to gird himself for a violent post-election contest.
“I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be rhetorical,” Stone said. “I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath. The government will be shut down if they attempt to steal this and swear Hillary in.”
Rarely in the history of the country have people who swear they want to defend democracy sounded so contemptuous of it.
The wider GOP plan appears to be to craft a narrative that the recent roll back of voter ID laws, which disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color who tend not to vote Republican, harms democracy rather than protects it.
So all this talk of a “rigged” vote is a crafty long-term effort to legitimize the push to prevent black people from voting at all. The GOP, which would prefer if people of color could not because that hurts their chances, really hope you will fall for it.
Meanwhile, Hannity's and O'Reilly's open infatuation with Trump seemed like a safe bet a month ago, but not so much now when they're suddenly being attacked from the right as well as the left. That's what happens when you allow your candidate to imply we live in a third world dictatorship, not a democracy.